Americans should reject 'Trumpism'
Ken Moak

Editor's Note: Ken Moak taught economic theory, public policy and globalization at the university level for 33 years and co-authored the book "China's Economic Rise and Its Global Impact" in 2015. The article reflects the author's opinion and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

No one would fault U.S. President Donald Trump for "Making America Great Again" or seeking a second term, that's what every president should do. But his approach, referred to in this article as "Trumpism," of instituting a policy of division, stoking racism and creating enemies is dangerous and should be rejected.

Since Trump won the presidency in 2016, he sowed the seeds for division and conflict, blaming and punishing "friends and foes" for "eating America's lunch." He terminated the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), saying it was the worst trade deal for the U.S. He took the U.S. out of the Iran Nuclear deal, suggesting it did not go far enough to prevent the Islamic Republic from making missiles. Trump left the Paris Accord, saying it was a Chinese "hoax" to "squeeze" the U.S. These are just a few of the many treaties Trump cancelled.

Trump's reneging on the treaties was probably politically-motivated. For example, walking out of the Paris Accord was due to his concerns that the climate change treaty could adversely impact coal and oil sectors in the U.S. After all, it was fossil energy producing the states that elected him to the presidency in 2016. The Accord calls for a reduction in the use of the polluting energy, thus risking his re-election bid in 2020.

However, walking out of the Paris Accord would exacerbate climate change, thereby wreaking further damages to the environment and economy. Unusual increases in flooding, forest fires, ocean waters warning and other human-induced natural disasters have devastated communities across the world, destroying businesses, properties and lives, wreaking havoc to the global economy.

Furthermore, Trump's decision has isolated the U.S. from the rest of the world, in that the overwhelming majority of countries, including staunch American allies, vowed to reduce greenhouse gases (GHG). By withdrawing from the Accord, Trump abdicated U.S. leadership, rendering the country less influential on global affairs. 

Unable to play the "great economy" card to win a second term, Trump turned to populist policies such as getting "tough" on China, a stance appealing to the American public, particularly his support base. Major U.S. poll organizations Pew showed that over two thirds of Americans blame China for America's economic ills and spreading the COVID-19 pandemic (largely based on the "disinformation" propagated by the U.S. media and politicians). Trump's "China card" strategy could win him some votes in the coming presidential election.

However, making China the enemy could risk further economic dislocation and national security. The ill-advised trade war already took its toll, increasing the numbers of homelessness, reducing investment and placing unprecedented number of farmers into financial stress. Trump's decision to raise the level of military adventurism in the Asia Pacific puts the lives of many U.S. allies and Chinese soldiers at risk because the possibility that China responds in kind due to an "accident," sparking a military clash cannot be ruled out.

Moreover, Trump upped the anti-China narrative. For example, he ordered the closing of the Chinese consulate general in Houston, Texas, and warned that he might close more if the Asian power retaliated. Well, China did just that, shutting down the U.S. consulate general in Chengdu. If Trump follows through with his threat, that could lead to further if not full-blown breakdowns in U.S.-China economic, diplomatic and cultural relations.

U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks during his campaign rally in Sunrise, Florida, November 26, 2019. /VCG

U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks during his campaign rally in Sunrise, Florida, November 26, 2019. /VCG

Economic relationship breakdown would prolong if not destroy U.S. recovery (and that of China and world as well). Whether Trump likes it or not, the U.S. and Chinese economies are deeply entwined, each needing the other to improve its socio-economic well-being. Without parts produced from China, many U.S. products from furniture to weapon production, could not be produced. What is more, China is the biggest market for much of U.S. exports, ranging from farm to technology products. Reduced manufacturing activities at home and inaccessibility to the China market would harm U.S. business and therefore economic interests.

Breakdowns in cultural and diplomatic relations would damage U.S. national security (and those of China the world) further. It is people-to-people exchanges that build mistrust and promote understanding between nations. The absence would destroy what little trust between the U.S. and China has. And without diplomatic relations, there would be no communications channel on which the two countries can settle differences, thus magnifying issues or even leading to military conflicts.

At home, Trump is playing the "law and order" card and stroking "racist languages" to shore up his base support. Ordering federal law enforcement officers to crash anti-racist protests appealed to some Americans, particularly the white supremacists. Calling the novel coronavirus the "Chinese virus" has inflamed racial hatred against Asian Americans in general and those of Chinese ancestry in particular.

Implementing a "tough law and order" posture and stroking racist languages do erode economic growth and cause social discontent. As seen in Portland, Oregon, and other cities, clashes between races or between protesters and the police have destroyed businesses and widened the racial divide. Business closures have put more people in the unemployment line.

Racial or any kind of violence also incurs social costs, and spending more money on law enforcement means less would be spent on education and healthcare, leading to the erosion of the health and quality of labor or reduction in productivity. 

Yes, America should reject Trumpism. America and indeed the world might not be able to endure a second term of Trump if it is anything like his first.

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